We spoke with Mary Davis, Chief Executive Officer of Special Olympics International, Pat Gallagher and Stephanie Martin, authors of Big Game, Bigger Impact, ran down the top plays in sports philanthropy, and brought you new MVPs in this month's edition.
finance & fundraising assistant
right to play
Taylor recently joined the Right To Play team focusing on finance and fundraising efforts while supporting the team as a whole. Her prior sports philanthropy experience includes time spent assisting with activation, enrollment, and support of the US Fund for UNICEF's Kid Power schools program.
Taylor has been giving back since a young age as modeled by her family and her church. Her volunteer experiences led her to pursue a degree in International Health at Georgetown University. The curriculum introduced her to sport for youth development programs, an area that sustained her interest. Taylor is passionate about giving back, sports, health, and education. She sits on the board of The American School of South Sudan, a nonprofit school in Juba, South Sudan with beginnings as a youth sports program. Taylor is a member of The George Washington University Sports Philanthropy Executive Certificate April 2016 cohort.
rashad jennings foundation
Christina Hovestadt is a nonprofit leader in sports philanthropy, writer and public speaker.
Currently, Christina is the Executive Director of the Rashad Jennings Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit led by NFL Running Back and Season 24 of Dancing With The Stars champion, Rashad Jennings.
Her story didn't start there, though. As a former collegiate volleyball player & current USAV coach, Christina's passion to pour into youth began when she realized the impact that one coach and teacher can have on a student. Christina worked in television news for three years and also served as an Event Coordinator for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. But, as life would have it, Christina happened to stumble back on the volleyball court and into the classroom - but this time, coaching and teaching the next generation at a local high school in Florida. From passionately teaching students who couldn't pass the state standardized assessment in reading, to showing tough love and motivating players on the court who desperately needed a mentor, encouraging youth quickly became a passion that turned global when she began her work with the Rashad Jennings Foundation.
The Rashad Jennings Foundation's mission is to inspire youth by making education fun, providing mentorship for individual success and to promote health and fitness worldwide. The RJF creates programs for NFL players from around the league who's serve as ambassadors to give back to their communities.
In the past two years, the Rashad Jennings and the RJF have been recognized by the NFLPA as a finalist for the Byron "Whizzer" White award at the Super Bowl. The BWW award is the most prestigious award given to players that demonstrate the highest level of community service in their communities and hometowns. In the past two years, the RJF has reached over 30 thousand students through their literacy program, The Reading Challenge.
When she's not branding programs for NFL athletes around all 32 teams or pouring into youth through the RJF, Christina is passionate about being a voice for the youth and public speaking on all things leadership, sport philanthropy, youth advocacy and empowerment. She is also passionate about empowering women, so she created The Set Apart Women (TheSetApartWomen.org), a community of women determined to live their lives on purpose.
Though she has had the opportunity to speak on many platforms in the sports industry, and the opportunity to speak in schools, in locker rooms and in board rooms, Christina's message is consistent: Live intentionally and activate your life with purpose. She has been a trusted speaker at public and private schools around the nation, and has spoke on numerous panels. She has also served as a Keynote Speaker for a youth development program at Columbia University. A graduate of the University of North Florida, Christina majored in Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations.
Christina was named Top 30 Under 30 Future Leaders in Jacksonville, FL in 2013 and most recently received the "Top 30 Leading Women of Jacksonville" award in 2016. Christina was born and raised in Jacksonville, FL and currently resides in Lynchburg, VA, while traveling nationwide through her work in sport philanthropy.
community engagement COORDINATOR
Nici Ruffin is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. She is enthusiastic and passionate about a career in Community Relations in sports. She received a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in Sports Administration from the University of Cincinnati in 2011. After graduating from UC, Nici worked for the Cincinnati Reds, Thomas More College and Cincinnati State Community College. In 2016, she graduated with a Master of Sport Administration from Ohio University where she worked on Community Relations projects with the Washington Redskins, New York Jets and Ohio University Athletics. She also was able to attend a Service Learning Trip to Mandeville, Jamaica where she spent a week volunteering at an orphanage and a school.
After grad school, Nici accepted a position with the Philadelphia 76ers as a Community Engagement Coordinator. In her position, she works for the Sixers Community Relations, Sixers Youth Foundation and the Wilt Chamberlain Memorial Fund. She coordinates events in the community for league-wide initiatives such as Autism Awareness, Season of Giving and My Brother’s Keeper. She works closely on the Sixers Youth Foundation’s programs which include S.C.O.R.E and Sixers Youth Hoops. She also plays a major role in the foundation’s annual “Evening on The Court” Gala. She works closely with the Wilt Chamberlain Memorial Fund Board to create amazing opportunities for high school seniors in the Greater Philadelphia Area. She also enjoys assisting with on-court recognitions during game nights and volunteering with her Sixers family at various community service events through the Sixers’ Project 76 initiative which encourages every employee to do 76 hours of community service each year.
Jonathon Dues is Vice President of U.S. Defined Contribution in Fisher Investments Institutional Group. In this role, he leads the team's business development efforts with retirement plan providers and consultants across the US.
In his spare time away from his wife Lindsey and two children, Jonny and Mara, Jonathon is the CEO of HoopsLink LLC - a basketball fitness community with operations in Chicago and Boston. In this role, he leads the company's overall strategic vision and membership growth efforts. A core component of the HoopsLink mission is to give back to the communities in which they operate. Specifically, Jonathon and many HoopsLink members work with the young men at Mercy Home for Boys in Chicago. They believe that the power of positive mentorship through sports can change lives, and they run free clinics year round. Their outreach programs teach basketball-based life skills.
Jonathon was a four-year starter and two-year captain on full scholarship at Hillsdale College in Michigan. At Hillsdale, Jonathon helped the Chargers to their first ever Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship in 2001, and the first two at-large bids to the NCAA Division II Tournament in the school’s history (2001 and 2002). During his career, he was named 1st Team All GLIAC and Academic All GLIAC and finished with 1,478 points (12th all time). He earned his B.A. in Speech Communication in 2003.